Abu Dhabi // The UAE and Saudi Arabia increased pressure on Qatar on Wednesday, warning “the moment of truth is drawing near” for Doha to make a decision on the 13 demands delivered by Gulf states and Egypt last week.
Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, described the situation for Qatar as “dire” as the Monday deadline for the demands to be met looms.
“The moment of truth is drawing near. We call on our brother to choose his element, to choose honesty and transparency in his dealings, and to realise that media clamor and ideological heroism are short-lived,” he said.
Earlier on Wednesday, Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani condemned Riyadh’s refusal to negotiate the list of demands sent to Doha last week with a 10-day deadline.
“Our demands on Qatar are non-negotiable. It’s now up to Qatar to end its support for extremism and terrorism,” tweeted Saudi foreign minister Adel Al Jubeir, apparently in response to Sheikh Mohammed’s comments.
Mr Al Jubeir, who is currently visiting Washington, confirmed that his country will not ease the trade embargo imposed on Qatar until all demands are met.
The demands sent to Qatar last week by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt include the scaling down of its relationship with Iran and the closure of its Al Jazeera news network. The four countries are also demanding that Qatar agree to monthly audits on government finances and end its alleged funding of terrorist organisations around the Middle East.
On Friday last week, Dr Gargash threatened Doha with “divorce” from the GCC if the demands were not met.
Another option being considered are fresh sanctions on Qatar, the UAE ambassador to Russia said. The UAE and Saudi Arabia could ask their trading partners to choose between working with them or Doha, Omar Ghobash said in an interview with The Guardian newspaper.
“There are certain economic sanctions that we can take which are being considered right now,” he said. “One possibility would be to impose conditions on our own trading partners and say you want to work with us then you have got to make a commercial choice,” he said.
He said the expulsion of Qatar from the GCC was “not the only sanction available”.
Mr Ghobash also told CNN that Gulf countries had been bold in pinpointing extremist figures in Qatar in a list published earlier this month.
The Qatari foreign minister is also in Washington where he held talks with Mr Tillerson on Tuesday, shortly before the US secretary of state met with Kuwaiti minister of state for cabinet affairs Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah Al Sabah whose country has taken on the role of mediator in the dispute.
The list of demands “is contrary to the principles that govern international relations because you can’t just present lists of demands and refuse to negotiate”, the Qatari foreign minister said on Wednesday.
But Dr Gargash stood firm in his comments on Twitter.
“We have long suffered [Qatar’s] conspiracy against our stability and witnessed its support for ideologies that aim to sow chaos in the Arab world. Enough. Return to reason,” he wrote.
* with additional reporting by Agence France-Presse